Infant's Eye Exam Information

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When a baby is born their visual system is not fully developed. An eye turn noticed may be normal up to 3 months of age. By 3 to 4 months of age a baby has learned to use their eyes together; there may be some depth perception present. Because the visual system is developing rapidly during the first six months, it is important to determine if the baby has any myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, amblyopia or strabismus to is blocking proper development. It is recommended that a baby gets a comprehensive eye examination between the age of 6 and 12 months.

Can a pediatrician detect these eye problems at a well-baby check-up?
Unfortunately sometimes they cannot. Some conditions are not readily seen at a screening. If problems are not detected early, the baby has lost time and experience. The American Optometric Association's clinical practice guideline indicates that 9.2% of children have visual impairment. The Preschool vision screening study group found that visual problems are one of the leading handicaps in children. The NEI states that children  with vision impairments are associated with development delays and require special education services. Waiting until the child starts school to get eye exams makes treating difficult.

How does a parent know if their child's eyes are okay?
The American Optometric Association recommends an eye exam by the age of 6 months. Babies need more than a vision screening.  A vision screening can’t always pick up hyperpia, astigmatism or myopia, or even a small tumor in the corner of the eye. A comprehensive eye exam picks up more than a vision screening. A comprehensive exam is needed in order to be sure that the eyes are okay.  Often there are no symptoms to these eye problems in a young child.

How do we examine an infant if they can not tell which one is better, one or two?
The exam for an infant is not the same as for an adult.  The infant eye exam checks for the same things but uses special equipment and tests that infants can respond to. Eye Doctors are trained to ask the questions differently to determine if the visual system is developing properly.

Why does an infant need an eye exam by 6 months of age?
By 6 months of age the infant’s retina and optic nerve are fully developed. The eyes are working together as a team.   You only get answers to the questions you ask.  If you want to know if the eyes are okay and developing okay, an eye exam can give you answers to your questions.